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WEEKES ON THE WEB
Posted On Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 10:54 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Stadium Series in New York great for fans

Yankee Stadium will be hosting two very special outdoor games as part of the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series. It starts Jan. 26 when the New York Rangers face the New Jersey Devils and continues Jan. 29 when the Rangers meet the New York Islanders.

As someone who has played for all three teams, I have a unique perspective on these rivalries.

Personally I think the atmosphere at these games is going to be nuts. If you haven't lived or spent time in the New York metropolitan area, you don't really understand how much people love hockey there. You think it's the Giants, the Jets, the Knicks and everybody else.

Unless you spend time there you don't know how much people really love hockey. We're talking millions of people in the area, from Broadway to Long Beach to Morristown, N.J. The fact that they support three teams within that radius is mind-boggling. It's not just because of the population. It's about the passion.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.20.2013 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Ovi, Fleury will be key in Wednesday Night Rivalry

This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry will be a great one as two of the most talented teams in the NHL face off when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the nation's capital to play against the Washington Capitals (8:00p.m. EST, NBCSN).

Sidney Crosby has been putting up points at his typical pace, but one of the real stories at the quarter-point of the season has been Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who entering Tuesday night was tied with Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues for the League lead with 17 goals.

With 40 goals in his past 42 regular-season games, Ovi is really humming along. The key for him is he's scoring in a lot of different ways right now. When you're a goal-scorer, that means you're giving the opposition fits. It makes it very difficult for them to defend you when you're able to score in so many different ways, because it means you're doing a lot of things right without the puck. I like Ovi's game right now. He's scoring from the middle of the ice, he's scoring from the wing, he got a backhand rebound the other night, we've seen him on his off side, he's scoring around the net on little chip-ins.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Improved Mason has been key for Flyers

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers aren't sharing precious real estate at the top of the division standings right now, but this rivalry still will be on display when they face off Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS).

The Penguins usually are the team with the star players generating compelling storylines, but I think it's the Flyers who actually have one of the great untold stories of the early part of this season.

Things have been tough for Philly, but one thing a lot of people were questioning coming into the season has been answered. And that's the goaltending.

Steve Mason has retooled his game. I have to give Mason credit and I have to give Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese credit. I think we all know that Mason is talented and has the gifts to be a top-flight goalie in the League but he hasn't necessarily been the most focused. He hasn't necessarily worked as hard as he can off the ice in years gone by. He hasn't always practiced with the intensity that you need to be an elite goalie in this League. From all that I'm hearing so far this season, he's been doing those things.

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Posted On Friday, 11.08.2013 / 9:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Organizational depth, forecheck keys to Cup run

Now that the first month of the 2013-14 NHL season is in the books, I'm starting to see the competition League-wide take shape. It might be a little early to predict a Stanley Cup winner, but you can see which teams are emerging as legitimate contenders.

The way I usually identify top teams, especially this early in the season, is by looking at organizational depth. It's not just about which teams have the biggest stars scoring the most goals. You have to take a closer look at the NHL's top teams to distinguish the contenders from the pretenders.

In theory, the stars cancel each other out. I really believe that you can only go deep in the playoffs and have a chance to win or even play for a Stanley Cup if you have depth. That's why the smart teams do a good job of continuing that development of their depth players. They empower their depth players and help them get better. It's a big part of the organizational philosophy. You can't just lean on depth players under the white-hot lights of the playoffs. You can't all of a sudden say, "Hey, fourth line, we want you guys to go out and kill a penalty now."

It doesn't work like that. I think the Chicago Blackhawks are a great example of that.

Michael Frolik and those role players had huge playoffs. Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival. Each of those guys played a real impactful game. Did anyone project Bryan Bickell to be on the first line? Did anyone think Brandon Saad was going to develop the way he did, or that the Frolik line would be so key? Behind the scenes, they got leadership from veteran Jamal Mayers, whether he was in the lineup or not. A lot of those players who bring intangibles are needed to go deep.

Yes, it's early in the season, but you've got to start finding that early.

Look at the Anaheim Ducks right now. Is anyone demonstrating better organizational depth? Look at their goaltending. Last year, they had Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller. Now you have Fasth, Hiller and Frederik Andersen. Oh, and by the way, you also have John Gibson, who is awesome and was named the American Hockey League's goaltender of the month for October. The credit for all of that has to go to the Anaheim organization.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 7:52 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Role players will be key in Penguins-Rangers matchup

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers used to be rivals in the Patrick Division. Then they met as Atlantic Division foes. They're still together in the new Metropolitan Division.

No matter what division they're in, the Penguins and Rangers are poised to meet in a great Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).


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Posted On Friday, 11.01.2013 / 9:39 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Sid, Ovi look right back on top

I was looking at the stats page on NHL.com earlier this week and couldn't help but notice two very familiar names right at the top: Sidney Crosby leading the League in points and Alex Ovechkin leading the League in goals.

Ovechkin has since been overtaken by Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues, but it was nice to see the two biggest names in our game back on top, especially when you consider the noticeable lack of buzz surrounding these two players last season. With Crosby rehabbing from injuries and Ovi off to a slow start that saw him score two goals in his first 10 games, the narrative had switched to how the Sid vs. Ovi show was a thing of the past.

I can see why people were saying it. Sid was banged up and battling the health challenges he had, and Ovi had lost his way. At the end of the day, the fortunate and unfortunate thing about our business is it is performance-based. That's what it is about. People look at numbers and interpret them how they want, but I don't always believe that numbers tell the whole story. I believe it's more about the process. Sometimes you can have the right process and for an extended period not have the numbers. Then you get discouraged because people say you're not producing.

That process has helped the two biggest names in hockey get back on top. And we're all the better for it.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Bruins-Penguins could be statement game

The last time the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off, the Bruins were advancing to the Stanley Cup Final after sweeping the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final. It was quite a moment for a Boston team that looked unbeatable after outscoring Pittsburgh 12-2 in the series.

The Penguins will get their first shot at redemption as they host the Bruins in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS2) -- or as some might call it: the Iginla Bowl.


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Posted On Tuesday, 10.29.2013 / 3:03 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes' Beat with Jonathan Bernier

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Posted On Friday, 10.25.2013 / 9:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Teams we should be talking about

There are plenty of great storylines to follow early in the 2013-14 NHL season. A number of teams and players have been getting lots of attention, and deservedly so, for their great performances so far. But there are a couple of teams in particular who I actually think might not be getting enough attention.

I was thinking about this Saturday when I spoke to Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks after his team's 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames. Joe was telling us on "Hockey Night in Canada" how impressed he was by that Flames team. Two nights later, Calgary scratched out a big victory in Los Angeles against the Kings.

Calgary started its current five-game road trip 1-3-0, so the question is, "Are they for real?" You know what? I think that their approach is for real. Sean Monahan, their first-round pick, has been awesome. But more than anything they're a team that competes hard and plays an honest game. They're starting to believe in themselves. It was doom and gloom in Calgary last season, but now these guys are having some success. They're starting to believe in themselves. Much of the focus early this season has been on the Colorado Avalanche and their incredible turnaround. But the Flames are also worth a look.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Sabres and Bruins in different places now

This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game features two teams that have competed in countless classic games through the years. Whether it was in the Adams, Northeast or Atlantic divisions, the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres have always been a great matchup.

They're likely to engage in another great game Wednesday night. But in the big picture, these are two teams in very different places. And if the Buffalo Sabres truly want to turn things around for their franchise, they can take a hint from the Bruins.

I really like what I've seen from the Bruins. The thing that impresses me most is that they play the same way every night. From night to night, the Bruins have an identity to their game. They check well, they're physical, they're smart, they work hard. They're a disciplined team for the most part. But in addition to that, Tuukka Rask has been excellent. You put all that together and that is why they continue to have success.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic